How many conversations have you had with your friends debating what the best way to lose weight is: to eat a low-fat diet or a low-carbohydrate diet? A new study reveals that neither is better than the other and the only factor that matters is a good, balanced diet.

The study published by Jama found that people who cut back on processed foods, refined grains and sugar and ate vegetables and whole foods were able to lose weight in the course of 12 months.

"In this 12-month weight loss diet study, there was no significant difference in weight change between a healthy low-fat diet vs a healthy low-carbohydrate diet, and neither genotype pattern nor baseline insulin secretion was associated with the dietary effects on weight loss," the study found. "In the context of these 2 common weight loss diet approaches, neither of the 2 hypothesized predisposing factors was helpful in identifying which diet was better for whom."

There were 609 adults with ages ranging from 18-50 in the study. Their body mass index was between 28 and 40 and underwent genetic and insulin testing. The weight loss average was 13 pounds among those studied, but some lost as much as 50-60 pounds. Those who shed the most weight were the ones who stopped eating in front of the TV or in their vehicles and started eating with their families and cooking at home. 

Christopher D. Gardner, lead author of the study, said: "I think one place we go wrong is telling people to figure out how many calories they eat and then telling them to cut back on 500 calories, which makes them miserable. We really need to focus on that foundational diet, which is more vegetables, more whole foods, less added sugar and less refined grains.”

In a further interview, Gardner, explained that after the study there were new questions raised. “This study closes the door on some questions — but it opens the door to others. We have gobs of data that we can use in secondary, exploratory studies,” he said. “On both sides, we heard from people who had lost the most weight that we had helped them change their relationship to food, and that now they were more thoughtful about how they ate."

“I’m hoping that we can come up with signatures of sorts,” he added. “I feel like we owe it to Americans to be smarter than to just say ‘eat less.’ I still think there is an opportunity to discover some personalization to it — now we just need to work on tying the pieces together.”